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Nerd Nite @ Top of the Park


Friday June 14, 2024: 7:00pm to 8:30pm  Add to Calendar /   Add to Google Calendar


The Annex Tent – Top of the Park


Gather ‘round for an evening of informed and informal talks from a friendly neighborhood expert! We’ll have three speakers, each presenting on a different topic and sharing interesting facts that you never knew you never knew! Past Nerd Nite speakers have led deep dives into topics from the legacy of Louis Pasteur, to the origin of elements, to how a trumpet works, to a dissection of romance novel tropes. So bring a friend, grab a drink, and enjoy an evening among fellow nerds. Be there and be square!

Kayla Zochowski will start us off with Bingos, Phoneys, and Triple-triples: Learning the Babble to Dabble in Scrabble. Scrabble is a classic (dare we say beloved) board game we all have encountered in some way, shape, or form. However, the game is much more than a board and 100 tiles. Come learn more about the world of Scrabble from its history, to its dictionary, to the many facets of strategy implemented by the top (local!) competitive Scrabble players.

Kayla is a biologist who began her Scrabble journey after stumbling across a National Scrabble tournament over a decade ago. As a previous Nerd Nite speaker who has focused solely on the OPTICS of scientific TOPICS, she is filled with ELATION from her head to her TOENAIL to talk about a favorite hobby that RETAINS attention from ANTSIER RETINAS and even ORIENTS STONIER individuals to be LIGHTED with the DELIGHT of anagram solving (and beyond). 

From the World of Words to the World of Space, things are handed off to Rich Retyi for Space World: A Total Entertainment/Awareness Experience for the Entire Family! In the 1970s, the Thomas Edison of cleanrooms (we’ll get into it, don’t worry) asked himself, “Why not make a Disney World but make it space-themed?” And why not put it in Ypsilanti? A monorail. Lunar buggies. UFO rides. It would be called Space World. They estimated that in year two, the park would draw 1.9 to 2.4 million guests and earn $20m in revenues for the park alone. Not to mention local businesses and jobs. What happened to the theme park that never was?

Rich is the communications and marketing manager at the Ann Arbor District Library and likes to write and podcast about local history stuff. For more stories of Ann Arbor’s past, you can buy Retyi’s Book of Ann Arbor which is available in fine Ann Arbor bookstores, or listen to his dormant but maybe returning soon podcast, Ann Arbor Stories, available wherever you get your podcasts. 

Finally, we’ll close with Amir Baghdadchi with You Say Potato: the Great Hashbrown vs Home Fries Debate, and what it tells us about America. The USA is a nation of ideals, and one of the most important is the ideal plate of hashbrowns — but why can’t we agree on what they should be? Shredded, cubed, sliced? Fused into a disc or allowed to skate around the plate as free moving chunks? We look at the cultural significance of hashbrowns, and their complex role in the American psyche. We might just also explain the chemistry behind superior hash.

Amir is a writer, comedian, and host of The Moth StorySLAM in Ann Arbor. He has appeared at the Pickathon Festival and on the Moth Radio Hour, and was once hired by the San Francisco Bay Guardian to eat at every 24-hour restaurant in the city in a 24-hour period.

This event is offered in partnership with the Ann Arbor Summer Fest.

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